Downtown Neo Gothic, LA’s Medieval Fashion District

Amidst the hub-bub of downtown LA , most particularly the Fashion District, a mock gothic fantasy looms overhead. Easy to miss with the purveyors of cheap fabrics, suspicious fashion, and peculiar craft items. Frankly, the architectural marvels maintain my sanity.

One such marvel has just undergone a major overhaul, what had been one of many light industrial Temples to Efficiency will soon be the new home for the Downtown Women’s Center, 442 South San Pedro Street.

Downtown Women’s Center

née W.Douglas Lee building


442 South San Pedro Street

architect- William Douglas Lee

builder-Florence C. Casler

This medieval fantasy is one of many collaborations between the female builder Florence Casler (1869-1954) and the architect Wm. Douglas Lee (1894-1965). It is of course fitting that a pioneering female builder would ultimately (if unintentionally ) house her more unfortunate sisters.

We have the opportunity to check out the transformation first hand December 8th, 2010, a designer showcase that evening making that possible.

showcase link

The following image gives a sense of the extent of rehabilitation that the building has undergone. although I must confess I love the gaudy colors, so robust.

image source

Although I hesitate to promote events, this is most worthy. Plus it is quite a lovely building. I look forward to attending.

As I mentioned Florence C. Casler was a busy gal, in collaboration with her business partner Jesse K. Lloyd, they have bejewelled downtown LA with some true gems.

Florence C. Casler

ca. 1931


d. 1954

Lloyd and Casler Inc. were responsible for the tremendous Textile Center. This building has added much joy to my downtown jog, I always slow down to soak in the details.

Textile Center


315 E. 8th Street



Textile Building


I have had less luck unearthing info concerning the architect William Douglas Lee, although quite prolific I was unable to find a photo of the fellow. Quite busy from the 20’s through 1961, he ultimately teamed up with his son Douglas Everett Lee, the following link provides a list of accomplishments.

The following images, just a small sampling.

Garment Capitol Building

ca. 1926

217 E. 8th Street @ Santee

image source

I particularly love the Bendix Building, all ghostly chill, wide open floors, glorious light. Plus Bendix is just a super name.

Bendix Aviation Co. Building

ca. 1929

Maple and 12th

image source

I do hope you consider joining me in  attending this worthy event.

Until then,

Babylon Baroque



3 Responses to “Downtown Neo Gothic, LA’s Medieval Fashion District”

  1. You’re such a good treasure hunter!

  2. Grew up knowing Doug, his wife Lois and their children Everett and Betty. My grandfather had a construction business in LA (He bulit the Beverly Wilshire Hotel) and was best friends with Doug. I have several pictures of him when we were down at the Balboa Bay Club in Newort. He and my grandfather played golf every weekend as long as I can remember.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      Thank you for commenting, it is satisfying when readers contact me with bits and pieces that help “connect the dots”. I drive by the buildings almost daily, they give me great joy.
      I was unable to find photographs of the architect, pater or fils .
      If you have images you wish to share please let me know. I will include them in the article.
      again, thank you,
      Leonard @ Babylon Baroque

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